Italian politician claims he has been 'cursed' after orang-utan remark
Roberto Calderoli, who said that Italy's first black minister reminded him of an orang-utan, has asked for an exorcism after accusing Cecile Kyenge's father of putting a curse on him
By Tom Kington, Rome
1:40PM BST 27 Aug 2014
A senior Italian politician who compared a black minister to an orang-utan has now said he is considering asking the Pope to recommend an exorcist to fight off the curse he claims the minister's father has placed on him.
Roberto Calderoli, a former minister with the anti-immigration Northern League party, caused outrage last year when he said Cecile Kyenge, Italy's first black minister, reminded him of an orang-utan. He is now facing prosecution for his remarks.
But he revived the row this month by claiming that Ms Kyenge's father, who lives in the Republic of Congo, had placed a curse on him.
"I don't know if I should put an advert in the paper or call (Pope Francis) directly," he tweeted, "but I must absolutely find an exorcist."
At a ceremony last year attended by Miss Kyenge's father, Clement Kikoko Kyenge, in his home village, a prayer was said in which God was asked to free Mr Calderoli from evil thoughts. A photo of Mr Calderoli was then placed before an altar dedicated to the ancestors of the village, and the same request made.
But this month Mr Calderoli said a series of misfortunes he has incurred since then – including six hospital operations, the death of his mother, two broken fingers and two broken veterbrae – proved he had actually been cursed by Mr Kyenge.
To cap his year of bad luck, Mr Calderoli this month tweeted a photo of himself holding a six foot long snake he said he had found and killed at his home in Italy.
Mr Calderoli also told Oggi magazine that friends from Naples had given him a lucky charm in the shape of a red chilli pepper – believed to ward off evil spirits – only for it to mysteriously snap in half a day later. A mystic, he added, "saw a tremendous force active around me."
Mr Kyenge denied any curse had been placed on Mr Calderoli.
"We are Christians like him, we have forgiven him and our prayer was only meant to encourage him to make statements befitting his role," he said.
Mr Kyenge said that if Mr Calderoli had been sincere in the apology he made to his daughter after the orang-utan remark, the case was closed. If, however, Mr Calderoli had not been contrite, "the ancestors may become nervous," he said.
Cecile Kyenge, who has lived in Italy since 1983, is an Italian citizen and now a European MP, dismissed all talk of curses.
"I ask myself what religion Mr Calderoli practises," she said. "I am Catholic and therefore do not believe in many other practises and rites and I don't agree with his statements, which I consider irreligious."